A blink... then crash: couple's lives changed in a moment

Christine Macdonald plants a kiss on her hero husband Don. Pictured also is grand daughter Katelyn Austin,12. at the nursery.
Christine Macdonald plants a kiss on her hero husband Don. Pictured also is grand daughter Katelyn Austin,12. at the nursery. Robyne Cuerel

A SPLIT second of driver inattention was enough to cause a head-on crash that changed the lives of a Maryborough couple.

Christina Elaine Shipp was driving south on the New England Hwy near Crows Nest on May 13, 2014, when her car veered on to the incorrect side of the road.

Her car side-swiped the first of three vehicles coming the other way, the driver of the second car took evasive action but her car then ploughed into the third vehicle, Toowoomba District Court heard.

In that third car was well-known Maryborough couple Don and Christine Macdonald who each sustained serious injuries.

Mrs Shipp's barrister Robbie Davies told the court his client had no recollection of the accident and had woken up in the ambulance. She had not driven since.

However, the court heard she had told a paramedic in the ambulance that she had looked down in her car before the collision.

The now 62-year-old pleaded guilty to dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing grievous bodily harm.

Owners of the Bouganvillia Dell Nursery in Maryborough, the Macdonalds sustained serious injuries with Mr Macdonald sustaining multiple bone fractures.

Mr Macdonald told The Chronicle he had enjoyed good health and a high fitness level all of his life, but the two years since the accident had been the toughest of his life.

"It had more of a mental effect on Christine, she remembers the accident, I don't," he said.

"Even going up steps I still go one leg at a time."

Their business had also suffered while the couple was off work.

"We used to employ five people but now we only have one part-time worker."

Judge Deborah Richards said she accepted, by reports, the inattention which caused the accident was between 1.8 and 2.5 seconds.

Noting Mrs Shipp had one traffic offence in 43 years of driving, Judge Richards sentenced her to 18 months in jail but suspended the term immediately for four years.


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